Event Reports

Community Awareness Outreach at Sani II Village in Zomba-Malawi

by Dr. Samson Lembani
The objective for the community awareness outreach was to contribute towards ensuring that women are informed of their rights and the traditional and codified legal context as well as possible legal recourse and show first steps of demanding these rights.

The community awareness outreach took place at Sani II Village in Traditional Authority (T/A) Malemia in Zomba-Malawi. The event was aimed at boosting the knowledge of rural community members (including widows, single mothers as well as men) in Zomba about women’s rights to access, own, use and control land, and enhance the women’s capacity to protect and claim these rights.

Collaborating partners and target group

Women's Legal Resources Centre (WoLREC) was the main organising partner for this event through the District Coordinator for Zomba-Mrs. Magret Chilongozi. Using its local outreach structures and in collaboration with the traditional leaders, WoLREC invited all the participants and T/A Malemia to the event. While 120 participants were expected to participate, 147 participants attended, approximately 85% women, 15% men. The participants also included community facilitators and 10 traditional leaders (5 males, 5 females). The event was also attend by the KAS EWoH2 project team from Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe.

Programme and presentation content

Following the opening remarks from KAS and WoLREC and traditional leaders, the remainder of the programme included songs and dances, a comedy, drama display and a poem by the local community members. The remarks from KAS and WoLREC emphasized on the project objectives and encouraged change of mindset among community members (both men and women) regarding land ownership rights for women as stipulated in the new land law. On his part, traditional authority Malemia appealed to all his traditional leaders under his jurisdiction to acquaint themselves and comply with the new land law, ensuring that they protect the rights of women in resolving land and property inheritance disputes and in making land allocation decisions.

The edutainment comprising traditional dances, songs, comedy and poems echoed with one common message of protecting and promoting land tenure and land ownership rights of women. The extent to which participants assessed the relevance of the event was established in the closing session in which they were asked to highlight the major lessons from the drama, comedy and dance displays. First, participants confirmed that the drama/comedy displays had correctly depicted the prevailing traditional and cultural attitudes of dispossessing widows and orphans of their legitimate deceased estates (including land) once their spouse or parents passed on. Second, It was also confirmed in this feedback session that some traditional leaders solicit and/or accept bribes to unjustly decide against women, especially widows in land ownership disputes. Third, participants were equally able express their delight in learning from the event on how the newly enacted land law will protect and promote land tenure rights for women in Malawi, and who to report to when such rights are violated. In the closing session, participants and traditional leaders requested for such community outreaches to be conducted more frequently especially after the peak farming season, to realise the desired behavioral change among traditional leaders, community members and women themselves.

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Contents page in the civic awareness materials for community facilitators in Malawi